In the adumbration of the aerial poplar at the aback of my house, I sit on the lower footfall of the laundry angle anarchic a association of all-overs with a twig. I blow at their beach hills complete in the cracks of the hot city and watch them barrel for their lives. For an instant, I feel a billow of power, but afresh I stop to admiration why I am entertained by such a awful act. My thoughts are disconnected by shouts. I attending up to see my best buddies, Curtis and Gilles, antagonism their bicycles down the alluvium driveway appear me, abrogation a aisle of dry dust alive abaft them. Curtis’ Schwinn Stingray comes to a sliding stop abandoned a caster breadth advanced of Gilles’ new Centennial.
‘I win! Exhausted you again, Baker,’ shouts Gilles, a advanced beam breaking beyond his face.
‘I gave you a arch start. And besides, my tires aren’t advised for gravel,’ explains Curtis, aggravating to bolt his breath.
‘Excuses! Excuses! Hey, Ray, grab your bike. We’re branch to Whitson River for a dip,’ urges Gilles.
‘We can’t get to the pond aperture on my acreage anymore. Old man Simard put up a acid wire fence amid our fields and afraid up a big-ass No Trespassing sign.’
‘We can ride to Whitson through your field, backing the bikes and attack down the brook to the pond hole,’ suggests Curtis.
‘Naw. It’ll yield us consistently to get there and afresh back. And besides, I don’t wish anyone to bash my new wheels,’ says Gilles.
‘No big deal. We can bastard on through their foreground driveway,’ proposes Curtis.
‘Old man Simard is crazy. Chat is he keeps a shotgun loaded with alkali attempt by the foreground balustrade just for fun and giggles,’ adds Curtis.
‘No sweat, man. I apperceive Daniel, his son. I barter comics with him. I’ll ask him to accompany us. His dad will be none the wiser.’
‘Daniel isn’t the brightest ball on the Christmas tree, either,’ reminds Curtis.
‘I assumption he is affectionate of an odd duck, but he is harmless,’ I acknowledgment in his defense.
‘Damn acceptable thing. He’s as able as an ox. I wouldn’t wish to be on his bad side,’ says Gilles.
‘Daniel wouldn’t aching a fly. Poor guy gets teased all the time and never says a word. Anyway, aurora is burning. Let’s get going.’
I yield the lead. We chase our bikes forth the alluvium accept of the artery to Daniel’s place. I atom him at the aback of the abode by the old barn, agriculture chickens.
‘Daniel, you wish to ride to the river with us,’ I ask.
He doesn’t answer. He artlessly nods and walks into an old shed.
‘Where the heck is he going?’ asks Curtis.
Before I can hazard a guess, Daniel comes out, benumbed an old bike and animated from ear to ear. The foreground caster is missing a few spokes, and the anchor pads beef and cheep as they rub adjoin the askance rim on every turn.
‘Nice ride, Daniel. That’s a candied best model,’ I say to animate him.
‘It’s a CCM,’ answers Daniel, animated with pride.
We ride up the baffled tractor aisle forth the fence line. The grasshoppers pop up advanced of our tires and fly advanced a few meters abandoned to pop up afresh and again. We stop in the adumbration of a asphyxiate blooming timberline to get abatement from the baking sun and eat a few of the acerb berries. We ample our mouths with the acerb unripened bake-apple and discharge the seeds out in a dank mess. Bedlam hysterically, we yield turns aggravating to alarm out argot twisters as the central of our mouths crease and accomplish the words incomprehensible. Rested we abide a few kilometers forth the aisle to the river’s edge.
‘Last one in is a rotten egg!’ yells Gilles. He drops his bike on its ancillary and starts stripping down. Curtis and I chase suit, case our clothes off as fast as we can. The complete of a loud burst stops us. We attending in atheism as Daniel, absolutely dressed in jeans and checkerboard shirt, complete with shoes, wades in the river.
‘Rotten eggs! Rotten eggs!’ shouts Daniel, pointing at us and laughing.
‘That boy is nuttier than a shithouse rat,’ says Gilles.
‘Yeah, but he ain’t no rotten egg like you suckers,’ shouts Curtis bottomward his shorts and sprinting down the river coffer for the water.
After a few hours of angular dipping and play-fighting in the air-conditioned current, we arch aback to Simard’s house. We are annoyed but activity active and revitalized from the air-conditioned dip. Daniel’s mother is in the backyard as we cull up. She takes one attending at her son in his wet clothes and goes ballistic.
‘I warned you never to go into the river. You brainless no acceptable for annihilation imbecile. Didn’t I acquaint you. Can’t you anytime get that into your abandoned board head. I’ll advise you to accept to me if I allocution to you.’
We angle in shock as she grabs him by the collar and drags him off the bike. She swings him about like a rag babyish with one arm as she beats him with the other. She doesn’t even pay absorption to us or assume to affliction that we are watching. Daniel screams and cries, badly babble for her to stop while aggravating to block her blows, but she relentlessly continues to exhausted him like a dog. Not alive how to accord with the situation, and bluntly abashed that she would anon about-face on us, we agitation and acceleration out of the backyard and down the highway.
We ride home in silence, not advertence one chat to anniversary added about what we accept just witnessed. I’m not abiding why we accumulate quiet-is it the abhorrence and abhorrence of the advance or are we abashed of ourselves for not aggravating to advice him? Are we abashed abandoned bystanders or cowards active from fear?
The next day I deathwatch up as if annihilation had happened. Just addition asleep Monday morning, like every added academy day morning. I bang up the accomplish from my bedchamber in the basement to the kitchen. My sister stands ashamed at the foreground aperture with her books and lunch-kit in duke aggressive not to authority the academy bus for me-again.
‘You’re consistently late. The bus parks at the driveway, beeping its horn, cat-and-mouse for you. It’s embarrassing. Why don’t you abound up?’
‘Why don’t you go fly a kite?’
‘Mom! Ray is backward again.’
‘Don’t overlook your lunch,’ shouts my mom. ‘And don’t sit at the aback of the bus with the English kids.’
‘What? Why not? Whatever. I got to go, Mom. Bye.’
My mom insists that I sit in the foreground of the bus with the French kids. It’s like the English kids accept some array of catching disease. She rambles on about our albatross as French-Canadians to assure our language. Abounding of these English kids are my neighbors and some are acceptable accompany of mine. I absolutely don’t affliction what accent they speak. I can allege both English and French, so I don’t accept the problem. Besides if anybody wants to allege French-nobody is endlessly them.
I hop on the bus and sit down next to Jean-Pierre. Everybody calls him Mimi; I’m not abiding why. He is a thin, agile acreage kid who is consistently accepting in some array of trouble. We are sitting anon abaft Daniel this morning. I can see the blemishes on the ancillary of Daniel’s face and close from the advance he got from his mother.
‘Hey Ray. Let’s accept some fun,’ says Mimi tugging at Daniel’s hair. Daniel slides over bound adjoin the window.
‘Leave him alone,’ I said.
Mimi alcove over the bench afresh and snaps his basis feel at Daniel’s ear.
Daniel cringes in affliction and leans forward.
‘You’re such a jerk. How would you like anyone accomplishing that to you?’ I ask.
‘They wouldn’t dare,’ answers Mimi sitting aback in his bench amusement like a fool.
‘One day you will aces on the amiss being and I affirm you will get yours.’
At the school, Daniel slumps low in his armchair at the aback of the classroom-quiet, arch down, eyes on his scribbler. The armchair seems tiny beneath the fourteen-year-old’s colossal frame. Barely visible, a pencil protrudes from his able hands, a abbreviate accept growing from a stump. Daniel draws on his scribbler; the Incredible Hulk; his admired assistant character. He flinches at a channelled wad of cardboard that whizzes accomplished his head, followed by a cackling of laughter. He ignores the affliction from the jokesters and allotment to his doodling, which continues, even afterwards the abecedary enters the allowance and turns anybody else’s absorption to Math.
The alarm rings signaling the end of class, and instantly the aperture is awash with teenagers aggravating to get out of the room. Endure in line, Daniel follows the group. One of his accepted harassers accidentally slaps Daniel’s books and anchor from his hands, sending them bottomward beyond the alley floor. Frowning, Daniel kneels to aces up his things. The motion is routine, a reflex.
Later, at recess, I accompany some accompany in the academy backyard for a bold of soccer. Mimi plays on the added aggregation and behaves himself, until he sees Daniel continuing on the sidelines staring out into space. I knew there would be agitation if Mimi absolved off the acreage and bee-lined for Daniel. The blow of the aggregation and I run over, accession in time to apprehend Mimi go into his accepted routine.
‘Daniel, are you lost?’ asks Mimi ambit him.
‘No, I’m not lost.’
‘No? Well, a apache able from the zoo this morning, and they’re all searching for you,’ says Mimi bedlam and jumping about and gesturing with his accoutrements like a monkey.
Daniel gives a afraid smile and tries to abstain Mimi.
‘Hey, King Kong, I’m talking to you. You attending like you’ve eaten one too abounding bananas, ape man,’ says Mimi, as he pokes at Daniel’s mid-section.
‘No,’ answers Daniel aggravating abominably to abstain Mimi’s jabs.
‘Wait, what’s that on your face? Is that banana?’ asks Mimi.
‘Banana? Where?’ asks a abashed Daniel confused.
‘Right there,’ answers Mimi, slapping Daniel on the cheek. And there and there,’ he repeats slapping him repeatedly. Daniel’s glasses fly off his face and one lens shatters as they hit the ground.
Daniel’s face turns red, his eyes breach up and his basal lip quivers.
‘Aw, what? Are you traveling to cry now, King Kong? I anticipation you were a big ape, but you’re annihilation but a babyish monkey.’
‘Mimi. Leave him alone,’ I say.
‘Stay out of this, Belcourt. I’m just accepting some fun with Curious George.’
Sobbing, Daniel aeroembolism to aces up the debris of his torn glasses. Mimi takes advantage of his accessible position and bliss him harder in the behind, sending him tumbling. Slowly, he gets to his knees and alcove for his glasses abandoned to watch Mimi footfall down and drove them beneath his foot.
I can see the acrimony acquisition in Daniel’s bloated eyes. He climbs to his anxiety and starts to hyperventilate as he walks boring and steadily appear Mimi.
‘Holy cow. Now you’ve done it,’ I say to Mimi.
‘What? Are you traveling to cry, babyish monkey? Are you traveling to alarm for mommy monkey to appear advice you?’
Daniel roars and rushes Mimi. The physique slam, absolutely unexpected, drives Mimi to the ground. Daniel flails, throwing agrarian punches about Mimi’s head, abounding of them hitting their mark. Pinned beneath the big boy’s weight, Mimi yells for advice and tries abominably to agonize his way-out. We angle in shock, watching the onslaught. Some of the assemblage activate to appetite Daniel on.
The advance seems to go on forever. Finally a abecedary accustomed to breach it up. Mimi’s face is a bloated balloon. Turns out he has suffered a torn adenoids and two atramentous eyes, not to acknowledgment assorted bruises. He goes home for the blow of the afternoon and doesn’t acknowledgment to academy for a brace of days; convalescent from his injuries and a torn ego, I would suspect. Daniel spends the blow of the academy day in the nurse’s appointment aggravating to calm down.
Mimi’s concrete and brainy corruption of Daniel, which had been traveling on for some time, came to an brusque end with that thrashing. I assumption the awful crushing of his glasses was the harbinger that bankrupt the camel’s aback for Daniel, the endure in a continued alternation of abuses he endured from abounding sources. I don’t disregard violence, but I cannot say Daniel’s accomplishments were unjustified. A being can about-face the added audacity abandoned so often; sometimes angry aback is the abandoned acknowledgment to violence. And although Mimi was the abandoned concrete ambition of Daniel’s advance that day, I doubtable that Daniel was mentally punching his calumniating mother and every added annoyer who hit, teased or angered him over the years.